Here’s a great savory tart recipe I threw together for dinner with friends the other night. I’ve been making a lot of sweet and savory tarts lately, since I brought home a removable bottom tart pan from my last visit to the States – adding it to my collection of implements that don’t fit into my kitchen anymore. I’m going to have to start storing any new kitchen tools in the guest bathroom, or pretty soon I won’t have any room to actually cook! Anyway, returning to the tart, I was inspired by this olive-oil tart crust recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini, but threw in some ground hazelnuts which gave the crust an addictive nutty crunch. The slow braised fennel really shines, and it all comes together for an absolute show-stopper.
Olive Oil and Hazelnut Tart Crust:
- 3/4 cup (100 g) white flour
- 1 cup (120 g) whole wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (rosemary or thyme)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
- ½ cup (120 ml) water
- 3/4 cup (100 grams) hazelnuts
Chop the hazelnuts in a food processor in to tiny chunks, but not so fine as to be powdered. Combine the chopped nuts, flour, salt, and herbs in a medium mixing bowl. Mix in the oil with a fork. Add the water and continue mixing with fork until it is absorbed, then knead lightly until the dough comes together into a ball.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the ball of dough and the rolling pin with flour, and roll the dough out into a circle large enough to fit your tart pan. Try not to overwork the dough.
Transfer the dough carefully into the tart pan and line it neatly. Trim the excess dough, and place the pan in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to rest. Meanwhile, prepare the tart filling as indicated below.
Prick crust all over with a fork. Line shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes at 400°C, remove beans and parchment paper and cook for another 5 minutes. Fill crust with fennel and lemon filling and bake according to instructions below.
Fennel and Lemon Tart Filling:
- 3 fennel bulbs
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- grated rind from 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- ¼ cup white wine
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup milk
Cut off fennel stalks and reserve fronds. Quarter bulbs lengthwise then cut each quarter crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Finely grind the fennel seeds using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Combine wine, water, oil, butter, ground fennel seeds, the whole garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon salt and lemon rind in a 12 inch skillet and bring to a simmer. Add fennel and cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20-25 minutes. Stir in chopped fronds, remove whole garlic clove, and set aside to cool.
Whisk together eggs and yolk in a mixing bowl then whisk in milk, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Transfer fennel mixture to the partially baked shell with a slotted spoon, spreading evenly, discard any remaining oil from the skillet. Pour the egg mixture evenly over fennel. Bake tart at 350° until set and starts to turn golden, 20-25 minutes.